I feel sorry for those of you who may have made the unfortunate decision of hanging around Twitter or Facebook before watching tonight’s episode of True Detective. There’s absolutely no way you could avoid spoilers about the ending of “Night Finds You,” but if you’ve made it this far, I trust you’ve already seen the episode, which makes this a safe space to discuss what the hell just happened.

We’ll get to that shortly, but first, some other things:

Where last week set the table for the season to come and offered a solid, gritty introduction to our main characters, “Night Finds You” sets the wheels spinning as corruption of various sorts permeates the entire episode. There’s Frank Semyon, still struggling to legitimize his extravagant business venture, but finding it incredibly difficult in the wake of Casper’s death, and with the corrupt Vinci law enforcement breathing down his neck — he is, of course, forced to resort to his old, crooked ways.

The opening of the episode tries to endear us to him with a story of his twisted, tragic childhood and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic father. We are to understand that this is a man who, at a very young age, vowed to never allow himself to feel helpless ever again. It explains his need for power and his grandiose ambitions, and the push-pull of legitimacy vs. corruption. That push-pull defines much of the episode, as the slippery, shades-of-grey nature of corruption envelops all and feels unavoidable.

Basically, Frank is living in a spiritual sequel to A Most Violent Year, and Kelly Reilly is slipping comfortably into the role of Jessica Chastain. I would not be surprised if she’s the woman behind the man; in fact, I kind of hope that’s the case.

Elsewhere, the impotence theme persists, from the way a dancer refers to Casper as “weak” and insinuates a sexual deficiency, to Paul’s ongoing avoidance of his failures and his refusal to shoulder burdens or blame. Paul is a runner, as established in the premiere, and even after he’s given the improbable offer of a promotion to detective pending the resolution of the Casper case (along with a dismissal of those bogus sexual favor allegations), he maintains his preference for motorcycle duty.

Ani and Ray pay a visit to Casper’s psychiatrist/doctor/plastic surgeon, where they learn of the dead city official’s proclivity for younger women and escorts, while Frank’s visit to the strip joint he used to own yields the location of a small Hollywood home where Casper “entertained” his escorts — or rather, they entertained him.

I enjoy the odd coupling of Ani and Ray, two extreme and damaged people who cope in similar and yet incredibly different ways, but perhaps where Nic Pizzolatto drops the ball the most is in their all-too-brief conversation about feminism — Ray says he supports feminism because he has body image issues, which may be the most bizarre line ever spoken on this series. At second glance (or listen), however, it’s not entirely absurd: Ray’s painful and emotionally heightened confrontation with his ex-wife further cements his self-involvement and myopic, masculine view of the world, which is skewed even further by his alcohol dependency. Like all flaws, his come from deep insecurity, and his way of relating to the world, to conflicts, and to other people is through his own problems. He relates to his son through the brutality his ex-wife endured and the pain he — not she — endured because of it.

So, I suppose it makes sense on some stretch of a level that the way Ray might relate to women’s struggles is through the one struggle he can share as a man: his insecurity.

Even stranger, however, is Ani’s insistence that the main difference between the sexes is that one can always physically overpower the other — this doesn’t seem like obliviousness as much as it is Ani’s own worldview, developed from personal experience. She works in a male-dominated field, fighting against criminals who are predominantly male. Perhaps there’s more to inform this view that we haven’t learned just yet, but strapping herself with knives (a phallic weapon for its ability to penetrate) is an interesting way to speak to who Ani is.

I suppose we should get to that bats—t insane ending: after he clues Ani into the corruption of Vinci (and himself), he follows Frank’s tip to investigate Casper’s Hollywood home, where he discovers an empty sex swing, a camera in a closet, and a radio left on — along with all the lights in the house. Ray senses the oddly-shaped figure that’s appeared silently behind him (thus proving that he is, as he says, a good detective), but doesn’t fire his gun fast enough. Instead, we leave Ray on the floor, hit with two close-range shotgun blasts. No way he survives, right? But there’s also no way that Colin Farrell is done with this series so early, right?

That figure is in all black, dressed as a crow. So that happened. Is it a Furry? Is it one of Casper’s kinky friends? Is it someone Frank sent to cap Ray as revenge for the latter’s attempt to disavow his corrupt dealings? Is it a crow from Game of Thrones?

And you thought Season 2 of True Detective wouldn’t be weird.

Additional Thoughts:

  • “You know that expression about flies and honey?” “What the f—k do I want with a bunch of flies?” Ani really is my favorite already.
  • Ani uses an e-cig, and Ray compares the experience to sucking a robot’s d—k. So. Yeah. Okay.
  • I continue to be impressed with this version of Vince Vaughn. Where has this guy been hiding?
  • More W. Earl Brown, please. Thanks.
  • So…what is the scene with Ani watching porn supposed to tell us? Is it normalizing the idea that women watch and enjoy porn, or is it supposed to further demonstrate her masculinity and sexual dominance? Or is it just, like, supposed to be sexy because a girl is watching porn?
  • Theory corner: This week I’m leaning heavily on the theory that the Good People cult is involved in all of this somehow. I’d also prefer if we had an entire season built around them, given Ani’s reveal about the fates of the five kids who grew up there.

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